By Jeremy Branham

Houston (CBS Houston) – Don’t tell the Texans that Jacksonville is 2-11 and the third worst team in the NFL. From the Texans perspective the Jaguars are an athletic, talented unit filled with good players that can go toe to toe with any team in the league.

“They’re a competitive team, they’ve got really good speed, a lot of good players, a really good young quarterback,” Texans head coach Bill O’Brien said.

You understand the message. O’Brien can’t walk into the meeting room and tell the team, “just show up on Sunday, and we’ll win.” He has to make sure his team isn’t overlooking a bad team with just three critical games remaining on the schedule.

Pardon me while I use one of the most overused clichés in sports but “it’s the NFL.” There’s truth to that though. The margin of error in the league is minuscule, and slightly above average teams lose to bad teams all the time, unless it’s Cleveland.

“We don’t really worry about the record because we see them on film, and they’re a very athletic team,” Texans cornerback A.J. Bouye added.

Jacksonville has won twice this year, proof that they can win although rarely. Those two wins came in their fourth and fifth game of the season, home for the Colts and at Chicago. Since the two wins, they’ve lost eight games in a row, half of those by a possession or less.

“Jacksonville’s been in a ton of close games, they’ve been in one score games, field goal games, it just happens to be that they’ve ended up on the wrong side of it a number of times,” O’Brien said.

The preseason hype for Jacksonville was high. They were a popular pick as the non-playoff team that would crash the 2016 playoff party. Those pundits are burying their heads in the sand now, but the reason for those predictions is because Jacksonville does have talent. The offense was good last year, usually late in games when the outcome had been determined, but still the pieces were there.   They invested money and early round draft picks in the defense that would be improved. Long story short, it hasn’t worked, but maybe this week it will?

It’s not a must win by definition for the Texans, but for fans of the teams to continue any semblance of hope, it is a must win. The Texans are 4-0 against AFC South opponents this season, and have won nine in a row against division opponents. Last week’s victory over the Colts have them in position to win their second straight division title. Last week was a small step forward; a loss this week would be a giant leap back.

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